Curious whale in Wellington Harbour delays berthing of Interislander ferry and postpones capital's Matariki fireworks

A curious southern right whale in Wellington Harbour today has delayed an Interislander ferry and forced the cancellation of the capital's Matariki fireworks display.

Footage posted to Twitter by @GwennRJ shows the large ferry making its way slowly into the harbour with its horn blaring in warning to the whale which is watching on from a safe distance.

A tweet posted by KiwiRail seemed to be very understanding of the unique situation.

"Our Interislander crew is watching Wellington's whale as closely as the rest of the country! Kaiarahi had to delay berthing this afternoon as we didn’t want to put our visitor at risk. We hope our passengers understood (and enjoyed the view)," the tweet reads.

The whale has caused the Wellington City Council to postpone a planned Matariki fireworks display until next weekend for the safety of the whale and people in the harbour.

"The advice we've received is that the noise from the fireworks is unlikely to cause harm to the whale but that it could cause it to act unpredictably if it is in the vicinity," says Wellington's acting mayor Jill Day.

"We don't want anyone in boats or kayaks on the water, in the dark, to come off second-best if the whale breaches among them.

"We also don’t want the whale to be injured in any contact with a vessel."
 

It's the first recorded sighting of a southern right whale in the capital for eight years. 



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'Government coming apart at the seams' says Simon Bridges as second minister gone

National Party Leader Simon bridges says today's dumping of Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri shows more weak leadership by the Prime Minister, leading to a weak Government which is "coming apart at the seams".

Less than a year in Government, two ministers are now gone after Jacinda Ardern today axed Ms Whaitiri following a Ministerial Services report on an incident last month in which she was alleged to have assaulted a staff member during an event in Gisborne.

It comes after the MP was accused of assaulting a staff member in Gisborne. Source: 1 NEWS

Clare Curran quit her remaining ministerial roles about two weeks ago after being rattled in Parliament over questions about her use of personal email for Government business, and having already been stripped of two portfolios over undeclared meetings.

Mr Bridges says today's sacking of Ms Whaitiri is more weak leadership leading to a weak government. 

"I mean we've not had a ongoing series of chaos and sagas, whether it's been Curran, now Whaitiri, and of course managing or not managing as the case may be Winston Peters," the National Party leader said. 

"The Prime Minister has to take responsibility for that weak leadership. If we look at Meka Whaitiri, what's happened here is very clear. Nothing has changed. She's known the facts about an alleged incident now for week, but just like with Curran she has dithered and mucked around and she should have dealt with this much more early," he said.

Ms Whaitiri will stay on as the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Mr Bridges says that's a question for the Prime Minister.

"I think the reality is she still has leadership roles here. She's still chairing a caucus committee, and that's not good enough," he said.

"Still there's basic questions that I'm sure the Prime Minister knows but she won't answer, like whether there's been other incidents, what has happened here. She should have got to the bottom of this and dealt with this a long time ago."

Mr Bridges said Ms Ardern has not been strong enough on the matter.

"This has been weak leadership and weak government. It's why we're seeing the Government coming apart at the seams, you know around two ministers in a couple of weeks, around a coalition where they can't get agreement on basic things, this is yet more evidence of something that could have been dealt with decisively and strongly but has been weak," Mr Bridges said.

The National Party leader says the axing of Meka Whaitiri is more slow, weak leadership leading to weak government. Source: 1 NEWS

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Man, 25, charged with murder over death of eight-month-old girl in 2016

A man has been charged with the murder of an eight-month-old girl in Whanganui in 2016.

Police say the 25-year-old man appeared in Masterton District Court today and has been remanded in custody.

Bella Richardson died at a property in Whanganui on 7 November 2016.

Police say the accused was known but not related to her.

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Watch: Can you help? Black car takes off from West Auckland suburb after driver tries to grab woman

Police have released footage in the hopes it will help them find a man who grab a woman in West Auckland while she was walking down a street at night last week.

Detective Elizabeth Willis says the victim was walking towards Riversdale Road in Avondale on September 11 when she was followed by a man driving a black sedan between 8pm and 9:30pm.

The man, described as being possibly Māori or Pacific Island descent, in his 30s and around 175cm tall, yelled out to the victim before proceeding to park his car on Riversdale Road.

As the woman walked past, the suspect got out of his vehicle and grabbed her from behind but the victim managed to escape and hide until the man left the scene.

"This was a particularly frightening experience for the victim and we are very keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or seen other suspicious behaviour in the area," Detective Willis said.

"If you have seen a vehicle or person matching this description behaving suspiciously, please call us immediately, even the smallest piece of information may prove valuable to help ensure this man is held to account for his actions."

People with information can contact Detective Willis from Avondale Police on (09) 820 5776 or anonymously provide information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.